[Update 3/25/2017: There's a video version of this article at the bottom.]
And on one corner, we have the forces of JonTron and the “alt-right”! And on the other corner, there is the game developer Playtonic and the radical leftist videogame board, NeoGAF!
The current controversy of the week is this: Popular YouTuber JonTron, who has three million subscribers on YouTube (it's unknown how many of them are actually active), said really dumb/questionable/noble-but-poorly-articulated things in a political debate about culture, immigration, and race, with some left-wing guy. The substance of that issue doesn't matter to this discussion, but the end result is that JonTron, who is a (bad) entertainer, tried pretending like he's some kind of political thinker and it backfired. As a result, it divided his fanbase up.
This article isn't about YouTuber drama, because no one on this site cares about that garbage. What does matter is that KoopaTV's staffers have been warning about how JonTron is bad news in the industry, with particular interest on his voice-actor role for Playtonic (made up of former Rare Ltd. developers)'s Kickstarted game, Yooka-Laylee, which releases this April 11. Here are some prescient quotes from June 2016 from KoopaTV's RawkHawk2010:
“Anyone who associates with JonTron and his ilk is strictly limited in how far they can take criticisms on morality and ethics, and it may be that criticisms on morality and ethics are a bigger aspect of Yooka-Laylee than anyone ever would have thunk.”
“And really, is a Rare removed from Microsoft's clutches really any freer than a Rare groveling before the likes of JonTron and his minions? Nah, not if you've seen what I've seen.”Now, I still haven't gotten to the main point: So what if a voice-actor doing mumbles for an indie game has politically incorrect views? Well, not everyone has a high-tolerance for letting things go and not escalating them into a big problem. Enter notorious fascist videogame forum NeoGAF, eloquently described by myself before as “a hotbed bubble of extremism” that “[lashes] out at the slightest ‘injustice’ around.” What could be more unjust than allowing a guy with unpopular political views to voice-act some mumbles in Yooka-Laylee?
Well, they were outraged, as usual. According to RawkHawk2010 (since he follows this crap and I don't), several NeoGAF members began complaining about JonTron's presence in the game post-debate in the designated Yooka-Laylee thread, which Playtonic staffers read. They wanted JonTron's voice patched out on day 1 of Yooka-Laylee's release. To be fair, not every NeoGAF member went along with this, but at least one of them was apparently banned for disagreeing with this outrage. I guess they started tweeting at various Playtonic staffers over Twitter, which may or may not be why those staffers have protected their Twitter accounts from public viewing.
Later that same day, Playtonic announced the removal of JonTron's mumbles from Yooka-Laylee. There's currently a NeoGAF thread with dozens and dozens of pages of posts celebrating this outcome.
So, NeoGAF and anyone who sympathises with them have won, and JonTron's voice-acting, however limited it'd be, won't be in the game. Props to Playtonic for trying to have lower costs on voice-acting than a certain other Kickstarter game, I guess, but apparently, they need to be careful of whom they hire. This sets a precedent where radical whiners will background check every single person involved in a game's credits for ideological differences from their accepted standard. (Communists from voice-actor union SAG-AFTRA will, of course, be deemed acceptable.)
Here's Playtonic for their explanation of their actions:
“However, in light of [JonTron's] recent personal viewpoints we have made the decision to remove JonTron's inclusion in the game via a forthcoming content update. We would like to make absolutely clear that we do not endorse or support JonTron's personal viewpoints and that, as an external fan contributor, he does not represent Playtonic in any capacity. Playtonic is a studio that celebrates diversity in all forms and strives to make games that everyone can enjoy. As such, we deeply regret any implied association that could make players feel anything but 100% comfortable”The implication is this: We support diversity in all forms, unless it's diversity we disagree with. In other words, the same discredited diversity myth garbage plaguing the rest of the videogame industry. The end result is an industry-wide bubble of thought where non-leftists can't find employment and have to move on to other industries.
We're not yet at that end result: The majority of people don't care either way and are apathetic. If NeoGAF is left to its devices, though, they'll be treating those people as THE ENEMY as well:
|NeoGAF is disappointed in a Playtonic game designer expecting to see game-related talk by following game-related people.|
...Well, good thing they don't follow KoopaTV's Twitter account. (You should, though.)
KoopaTV has opposed this kind of behaviour from NeoGAF and other sources many times in the past, be it their campaigns against Skaldic Games, or against Palmer Luckey, or even when they created the #Miiquality hate movement. However, I've expressed some... regret defending Skaldic Games given their post-article behaviour, so I certainly don't want to be seen as defending JonTron given all of the... historic and well-deserved animosity he's garnered from KoopaTV.
After this decision, alt-righters began flooding and concern-trolling anywhere they could (so, not NeoGAF, but, say, Twitter [which is the other possible reason that Playtonic's employees have protected their Twitter accounts from being viewed by the public] and Steam's forums and whatever) about JonTron. Now people are saying that Playtonic was stupid for offending JonTron's massive three-million-strong userbase, which literally goes back to Rawk's quote I pulled for this article's beginning about “JonTron and his minions” preventing Playtonic's freedom. It's basically blackmail. That's not right, either.
Concern-trolls are trying to get refunds on their Kickstarter pledges because they feel mislead into backing it since JonTron won't be voicing a minor character. Some of these have reportedly been deleted from existence by Playtonic-paid moderators, though they're doing a bad job getting rid of the piles of alt-right garbage currently on Yooka-Laylee's Steam board. One notable image was passed around of someone named Illasera apparently being banned for asking for a refund on said board, but that's FAKE NEWS and he was actually banned for directly arguing with, and attacking, the board's moderator with alt-right lines of dialogue.
|...Well, you can see in the Kickstarter's comments section at the time that honest JonTron fans WERE excited about JonTron's inclusion.|
The end result of JonTron being disassociated is good, because JonTron should've never been involved with Yooka-Laylee to begin with. The means are terrible, because it's the same fascist-like tactics that I've been decrying on KoopaTV for years and years.
So... do the ends justify the means in this instance? If the answer to that is YES, then is KoopaTV selling out our “the ends don't justify the means” stance we took when we associated Hillary Clinton with “the ends justify the means”? I prefer to avoid justified judgments of hypocrisy.
Therefore, the ends don't justify the means, the method in which JonTron — a bad man and an even worse entertainer — was removed was so heinous that I'd rather he be in Yooka-Laylee than not. Yes, I refuse to side with NeoGAF and its radical far-left allies here.
But don't think for a moment I'm siding with those alt-right kooks, or even worse, with the JonTron fanbase.
By the way, come mid-April, we're going to talk about Yooka-Laylee as a videogame, not as a culture war battlefield. It's not looking too hot. That's when I'll finally fulfill that Yooka-Laylee-inspired request. But, as a preview to that: I do think that there is a big difference between being upset that Yooka-Laylee was cancelled for the Wii U after it was promised to be released for the Wii U... and being “upset” that JonTron's mumbles for a minor character are being removed. Where there is a connection between the two is the total failure of Playtonic as a company to control itself, its marketing message, and whatever internal processes it's supposed to have.
Ludwig uncontrollably cringes whenever he even has to look at JonTron, much less listen or watch him. That's why there aren't any images of JonTron in this article, but a bunch of images of other people's words about JonTron. He wasn't a backer of Yooka-Laylee, but RawkHawk2010 is (and give him props for his spot-on prediction). Ludwig and KoopaTV are big into free speech, but also big into the rights of companies to have at-will employment and contracts. Whatever contractual arrangement exists between JonTron and Playtonic is unknown.
KoopaTV similarly tried for a third way when it came to the entirety of #GamerGate.
Yooka-Laylee is now out, but of course, not for the Wii U. As mentioned here, it's not looking too hot.